Report by Ali Meller
The 2021 505 Canadian Championship was held as part of the September 18-19 CORK event, out of the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in Kingston Ontario. 505s raced on the same course as 49ers, 49erFX and 29ers; various ILCA (Laser) fleets were on another course to the west. Holding events in September in Kingston is interesting. Kingston has a fairly reliable sea breeze in June through August, but the days are not as warm by September, and Lake Ontario water is as warm as it gets (not very warm!). In the US MidAtlantic September weather still follows summer patterns, but summer weather ends earlier in Ontario. Sure enough, we were racing in system breezes out of the NE quadrant, not the typical Kingston sea breeze, though the sea breeze made itself known each afternoon by fighting the system wind and killing it.
Twelve 505 teams raced the event with the COVID-19 pandemic and the near-conflict with the 505 North American Championship (starting shortly after the following weekend) limiting turnout. However, those twelve teams showed the 505 class to the would-be Olympians racing 49ers, 49erFX, 29er and Laser, to excellent effect. There were top teams with strong long-time records of racing at the top of the class (including past 505 Canadian champions), couples, teenagers, parent and child teams, and pick up teams, with participant ages ranging from 14 to late 60s. One hopes the Olympic wanabees noticed the range of people and skills racing 505s and keep the 505 class in mind for when they have real jobs and families, and are paying the costs of their racing.
There was enough breeze for most teams to rake for the first couple of races. Bartlewski/Meller were at 25’5” or 25”4” and even put their flattening reef in for the start of race 2. In these conditions Team Ireland (Peter Scannell/John Dunlea) easily sailed away from the fleet to apparently win the first race. The leading teams were all wire running downwind, though it lightened up for the second run. Three teams were fighting for second and were so far back they did not notice that team Ireland sailed to the wrong finish line! Scannell/Dunlea only figured out what was happening by watching where the other teams were finishing, and then sailed to the correct finish line but finished 10th!
The next three boats were close together on the run to the finish. Approaching the left (looking downwind) gate on starboard preparing to gybe and make the left turn to the finish line, it was Jeff Boyd/Martin tenHove slowly gaining and working for the inside overlap on Robert Bartlewski/Ali Meller. Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin were a bit higher and gybed to port shortly before the other two teams reached the three boat length circle. After a brief discussion concerning whether Boyd/tenHove had an overlap (Evania is a witness!!) … Bartlewski/Meller gybed right at the mark with Boyd/tenHove just behind. But Lovshin/Lovshin had gybed earlier on to port, Evania was on the wire, the kite was full, they were going fast, and they were able to sail behind Boyd/tenHove and between them and the mark, as the latter gybed, and get across them into clear air on the short closer reach leg to the finish. Bartlewski/Meller crossed first, then Lovshin/Lovshin, then Boyd/tenHove. Christian Voyer/Bradley Sheppard were 4th, Marek Balinski/Simon van Wonderen 5th, Marie Gendron/Dave Brown 6th, Kyber Lovshin/Devlin Lovshin (Shona and Steve’s sons, and Evania’s brothers) 7th, with Doug Watson/Alex Taylor 8th.
Bartlewski/Meller assumed Scannell/Dunlea had won easily and were very pleased with their second place, and only found out later, to their surprise, that the latter had sailed to the wrong finish line and Bartlewski/Meller were the race winners.
Having learned the correct way to finish, Scannell/Dunlea powered away from the fleet and won race 2 easily, leading at every mark. It was a dominant performance! Bartlewski/Meller somehow managed to finish second, partly by following Scannell/Dunlea who were fast and seemed to be going the right way all the time. Marie Gendron/Dave Brown were 3rd, Boyd/tenHove 4th (there may have been some place changing between these two teams on the run as teams picked different sides to wire run towards), Balinski/van Wonderen 5th. Peter Hale/Mike Smits were 6th, Shona Weldon/Michael Wonnacott 7th, Moss Lovshin/Lovshin 8th, Watson/Taylor 9th, and Paul Place/Sean Wylie 10th.
The breeze was slightly lighter, with most teams back up to standard rake. Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin had excellent speed and upwind height in the lighter breeze and took the race win. Suffering a little as the breeze lightened, Scannell/Dunlea were 2nd, while Bartlewski/Meller were 3rd. Just behind them a battle down most of the run and the short leg to the finish between Boyd/tenHove and Gendron/Brown ended with Gendron/Brown 4th and Boyd/tenHove 5th. Bartlewski/Meller enjoyed watching this battle as soon as they realized it was not directed at them, and they could protect conservatively while opening a bit of a gap. Close behind were Balinski/van Wonderen in 6th, Weldon/Wonnacott in 7th, and Doug Watson/Alex Taylor in 8th.
The breeze was lighter, and shiftier with bigger pressure differences. The first attempt at a start, with Bartlewski/Meller the rabbit, had to be abandoned when the wind shut off just as the rabbit started its run. A second attempt was more successful, but the breeze was lighter as a weak thermal was trying to overcome the system breeze. As rabbit, Bartlewski/Meller were furthest right as the gate closed, but they tacked quickly once released, and headed to the left. Left was the place to be, and Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin and Scannell/Dunlea were there to take advantage. As Bartlewski/Meller converged with these two teams they were initially looking good, but the breeze was shifting left. Bartlewski/Meller tacked below the other two teams, but close to the layline. Teams that had not sailed hard left were further behind. But the next shift was the system wind getting the better of the thermal, by just a little, so a little port tack header. This allowed Bartlewski/Meller to squeeze around the mark ahead of the other two teams close behind, and close behind Gendron/Brown. The noticeable current was helping teams lay the weather mark! The RC signaled a course change at the first leeward mark, and laid a new windward mark significantly to the left of the old one. Gendron/Brown were slightly ahead of Bartlewski/Meller at the leeward gate, but both teams stumbled in figuring out what was going on (was it a course change or a shortened course?), taking spinnakers down late and then turning back upwind. This compressed the fleet as the teams a little behind could see what those in front of them were deciding to do. Bartlewski was demonstrating an amazing ability to find pressure and a lifted tack, and found something to both pass Gendron/Brown and stay ahead of a compressed pack just a few boat lengths behind, with places changing all the way up the second beat to the change mark. Bartlewski/Meller held on downwind and to the finish. This resulted in Bartlewski/Meller winning race 4 and putting them in the lead for the overall. Boyd/tenHove were 2nd, Watson/Taylor 3rd, Scannell/Dunlea 4th, Balinski/van Wonderen 5th, Gendron/Brown dropping to 6th after finding a hole on the second beat. Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin were 7th, just ahead of Kyber Lovshin/Devlin Lovshin in 8th.
That was it for the day and the fleet sailed in. To their considerable surprise Bartlewski/Meller were leading the event, with scores of 1,2,3,1. Several other teams like Scannell/Dunlea and Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin had some good races but had also had deep finishes (good throw outs) while Boyd/tenHove and Gendron/Brown had solid consistent finishes with no deep races, but no race wins.
After hanging out in the dinghy park and relaxing, 505 competitors headed over to past 505 racers Barb and Steve Yates home for a wonderful, relaxing and fun evening. I first met Barb and Steve racing 505s about 1977; it was wonderful to see them again. We were comparing notes on how many 505s the Yates have owned; they had nine and I am up to eight…
The breeze was shifted a bit right, perhaps more out of the East than North, as the fleet sailed out Sunday morning. It was clearly lighter than Saturday morning had been, and by the time the race started crews were sitting on the tank at best, and sitting to leeward at worst. A number of teams set up fairly far up the line to wait for the rabbit – the gate was only open for a total of one minute! — but Moss Lovshin/Lovshin, Scannell/Dunlea and Bartlewski/Meller gated at about the 30 second point, in that order. The next team to gate, just above Bartlewski/Meller, was Weldon/Wonnacott in 8610, may have been squeezed a bit by Bartlewski/Meller or somehow had less pressure. They and most of the teams gating above them seemed to be in less pressure, with less speed, and the first three teams to gate punched clear heading left.
Once again Bartlewski demonstrated his prowess at finding pressure and getting on the lifted tack. As Meller noted several times in conversations ashore, Bartlewski would call for a tack, they would tack, Meller would get the jib sheeted in and the boat flat-ish, would look around and check the compass and note that they were 10-20 degrees up and in pressure … Bartlewski/Meller led at the weather mark with Shona Moss Lovshin/Evania Lovshin close behind. With the left shift both teams could broad reach for the leeward gate. Lovshin/Lovshin were going low and fast, perhaps looking for angle to come back up to the gate on a closer reach, but Bartlewski/Meller covered the move by also sailing slightly below the rhumb line. Meanwhile Scannell/Dunlea and the bunch behind them saw a puff high and several teams went for it. This was looking a bit scary to the two leading teams who were low and in light pressure. They came up above the rhumb line, eventually finding enough pressure to keep moving, but then had to gybe for the leeward gate. The RC signaled a course change again, but this time everyone knew what to do and responded quickly. Bartlewski/Meller pulled away on the second beat and as they approached the weather mark heard two sound signals and saw an S flag. They crossed the line at the windward mark and checked with the finish line boat for instructions; “hang out at the RC boat.” Places were changing behind them with at least the next three or four teams crossing the line overlapped. Lovshin/Lovshin held on to 2nd, Boyd/tenHove pulled up to 3rd, Gendron/Brown got to 4th, Scannell/Dunlea 5th, Watson/Taylor 6th, Christian Voyer/Bradley Sheppard were 7th and Balinski/van Wonderen 8th.
These results put Bartlewski/Meller in a very strong position with all good finishes, throwing out a 3rd, while other teams had more mixed results. Bartlewski/Meller drifted down to the RC boat while doing arithmetic to determine what they needed to do in the next two races to hold on for the win.
The breeze was fitful as the thermal fought the system breeze. Boats sailed slowly, against the current, down to the RC boat, with some protecting the harbor side of the race course expecting the breeze to die. After waiting for some time, the RC gave in to what seemed inevitable, and sent the fleet in with the five races.
Ali Meller has been racing 505s since 1977 and has competed in the 505 Canadians as a driver many times, coming close but never winning (including leading going into the last race but faltering). After years of trying he finally won the 505 Canadians as a crew thanks to Robert’s abilities in finding puffs and shifts. It ended up being a dominant win on the score sheet, though it had not felt that way on the water with close finishes in all races. Finishes of 1,2,3,1,1, and throwing out a 3rd for five points gave them a seven point lead over a three-way tied for second between Lovshin/Lovshin, Scannell/Dunlea, and Boyd/tenHove who were all tied for second at twelve points. The tie was broken in favor of Lovshin/Lovshin, then Scannell/Dunlea.
If it had been lighter, Lovshin/Lovshin could easily have been dominant. If the breeze had stayed up Scannell/Dunlea would probably have won most of the races. If there had been any more chop, Bartlewski/Meller’s light weight and flat sails would have hampered them. On another weekend with slightly different conditions, Boyd/tenHove could have won the event.
The lure of the Yates party was so great that the group did not have a debrief after Saturday racing. This was an oversight; we should always have a debrief after each day of racing or practice. A debrief was held after the prize presentation on Sunday, but a number of teams had already left by that time. The discussion during the debrief was mostly focused on setup and tuning, though the puffs being in narrow channels, such that you could go too far in a puff and come out the other side into less pressure was mentioned.
Most teams were initially raked to depower Saturday morning, but stood their rigs up and put their centreboards to vertical as the breeze lightened. Bartlewski/Meller pulled their flattening reef on between Race 1 and Race 2, in case the breeze came up and they needed to rake some more. They eased off the flattening reef going downwind when the breeze lightened. The way flattening reefs are rigged they are hard to pull on (typically crew comes in off wire, vang is eased a lot, main is luffed, and crew pulls on the reefing line and cleats it), but easy to let go when the breeze lightens. So you can pull it on before a race, in case the breeze builds, and let it off if the breeze lightens during the race.
When raking to depower the centreboard should also be raised, perhaps one inch up on the centreboard for every two inches of rake. As the breeze goes lighter (crew sitting on the tank) top teams rake forward of 25’8” (or forward of 3’4” measured forward). Robert/Ali were at 25’ 10” in the lighter stuff, with the centreboard raked somewhat forward (blocks on CB handle jammed on centreboard cap). 25’9” would also have worked well. 8288 cannot rake the centreboard as far forward as some other boats. Moving the centreboard only – rather than raking and pulling down on the ram and then moving the centreboard — is a quick way of depowering, or powering up if the board was raised a bit. Shona Moss Lovshin was adjusting her centreboard quite a bit to depower in the puffs, as she and Evania were a light team with not much weight on the wire. If it is hard to move your centreboard put some McLube on the centreboard head. If the crew is on the wire kicking off the rail while the driver pulls on the CB control line will unload the centreboard for an instant, and make it easier to adjust.
Pulling the boom to weather was also very helpful and this works well even with the crew on the wire. 8288 can pull the boom as much as nine inches (guesstimate) to weather of centreline. Some of the other 505s cannot pull the boom as far to weather and are missing out on this opportunity. Pulling the boom to weather gives more power (for example, it may be enough to keep the crew on the wire without bending their knees) and helps point. Vang tension/reducing mainsail twist is also very important for power and pointing. And pre-bend for light air to flatten the entry of the main.
How tight is tight on the vang? The group discussed how tight the vang should be for light air flat water, and looking at the upper main leach telltale. Shona Moss Lovshin said 70-80% of the time with Meller agreeing. There was not much wave or chop either day, and the 505s were not being slowed by them as the breeze went light both days, so teams should be in point mode, and the boats go very well with that top telltale stalled most of the time.
Jib sheeting angle and sheet tension are super important! If you have a North jib, the sheet should line up with the upper trim line, more or less. If you pre-bent the mast and flattened the main, you can sheet the jib harder without closing off the upper slot. If you rake forward remember to move your jib leads up/aft to compensate. If it is light enough for one of the team to look under the boom, check what the slot looks like near the top (where the jib leech telltale is). If that telltale is stalled you are sheeting too tight, but you can sheet the jib hard if the main is flattened. I saw several jibs that I thought were tacked a little too high. I want the bottom of the jib touching the foredeck, without room for breeze to escape through under the jib. Basically, the foredeck should act as an endplate. Lowering the jib tack has the effect of RAISING the jib sheet (same as moving it aft). The very front of the jib foot will be clear of the deck, but something like half the foot should be touching the deck. If you lower the tack and don’t move the jib lead this will give you a flatter jib at the bottom and possibly a more twisted open upper leech, until you sheet very slightly harder. Jib sheet tension, which controls twist and slot size near the top of the jib, is critical. Get in the habit of easing a couple of centimeters in a lull and pulling that back in, in a puff. If your main has an upper window you can look through the window and judge the distance to the jib leech. You should have a jib leech telltale placed where it can be seen through that upper main window.
Sailing with Robert, I would sheet the jib in after tacking, trying to put the jib sheet mark in the same place as it was on the other side. I would then check how tight it looked at the upper leech, adjust if necessary, and ask Robert how the boat felt. Usually he was happy with where I had it, but occasionally he would ask for an adjustment.